My husband and I recently had the fabulous opportunity to make a trip north to visit and tour Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in the heart of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County wine country. The winery is situated on a 450-acre estate with gorgeous, rolling hills and approximately 250 acres of vineyards. The views are stunning and the wines are world-class.
Sonoma-Cutrer has been at the winemaking process for over 40 years, combining traditional Burgundian winemaking methods with cutting-edge technological innovation to produce a selection of truly incredible wines.
The tasting room has recently been expanded and during our visit was in the process of receiving the final touches in preparation for a June opening. It includes a vast tasting hall and a couple of smaller, exclusive tasting lounges. The great big terrace with ample seating overlooks the croquet courts.
The croquet courts are open and available for use by visitors to the winery.
A little wine and a little croquet in a beautiful wine country setting. What could be better?
Part of my experience at the winery included these guys. That’s Alex on the left and Sam on the right and they followed close behind, filming our experience all along the way. Part of the fun in being involved in a video shoot is taking lots and lots of photos of the videographers. It’s called payback, guys.
Donna Bernheim, the Wine Club Manager was our tour guide. She’s been with the winery since the early 1970’s has a fantastic bank of knowledge about the entire winemaking process. The videographers came along for our golf cart ride through the vineyard.
We had the opportunity to stop and walk through the rows of vines as Donna talked to us about the incredible precision involved in the growing process. The Russian River Valley region has a cool climate affected by fog generated by the valley’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The climate and soil in this area produce some of the best cool climate varietals available, anywhere.
The tour continued inside to this very chilly room filled with fermentation tanks. Just after they are picked, the grapes make their way on a conveyor belt through a chilled chamber just off this room. The very cold journey takes about an hour to ensure the grapes maintain the correct temperature before the sorting process begins.
The rows and rows of barrels in the Press Room.
The barrels used are a vital component in the winemaking process. The winemakers at Sonoma-Cutrer understand the importance of using the best barrel for each type of wine and have a special relationship with their coopers who visit the winery each year to taste the wine at the vineyard. All of the wines are aged in barrels made of the finest French oak.
While the tasting room was undergoing renovations they set up this portable and temporary yurt for the tastings.
Our tasting started with Sonoma-Cutrer’s signature chardonnay, the award-winning Russian River Ranches.
I immediately noticed a difference in Sonoma Cutrer’s chardonnays from most others I’ve tried. They are bright, crisp, and have a nice mineral acidity to them. I far prefer this style over the “buttery” variety you find so often. On tasting, we picked up notes of green apple and almost a light, floral quality. Delightful!
For me, the star of the show was the 2014 Winemaker’s Release Sauvignon Blanc , a limited release wine that is available to wine club members only. It contains fruit from four different Russian River Valley vineyards resulting in a crisp, classic Sauvignon Blanc. Before the wine even hits your palette you’ll notice a great tropical and citrus fruit aroma. The fruit really comes through when you taste the wine but is balanced by a clean, mineral quality that I absolutely love.
This is the perfect summer wine! I’ve got some nice plans in mind for the two bottles that are chilling in my refrigerator right now.
Although Sonoma-Cutrer is widely known for their world-class Chardonnay, they also have a wonderful selection of Pinot Noir.
The Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a truly elegant wine at a great price point. Aromas of blackberry and cherries and a deep, earthy tone make it an excellent choice to serve with a nice bowl of pasta in a spicy sauce. I think I’ll need to pour a second glass to go along with a rich, chocolate dessert. Fabulous!
Members of the Sonoma-Cutrer wine club enjoy three exclusive shipments of wine per year, access to limited release wines, and a 20% discount off both online purchases and purchases of wine and merchandise made while visiting the winery. It’s a fantastic way to try a variety of wines, delivered straight to your door throughout the year. There are no membership or monthly fees. For more information on Club Cutrer click HERE
Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyard and tasting room is located at 4401 Slusser Road, Windsor, CA 95492. The tasting room is open Thursday – Monday, 10:00am – 4:00pm.
Call 877-797-3489 or visit Sonoma-Cutrer online to schedule a Winery Tour and/or tasting and for more information.